PRAISE FOR FLOWING WATER, FALLING FLOWERS
"Flowing Water, Falling Flowers is an engrossing, beautiful debut that glides through multiple times and places. Collins brings to life not only the complex cast of characters, but an entire culture, both of which come vibrantly alive through her storytelling magic. The Han, Wang, and Fang families take us on an enlightening, unforgettable journey." –Kali White VanBaale, award-winning author of The Monsters We Make and The Good Divide
"The atmosphere for this book is masterfully set by a poem, a song, and a new-born baby’s cry. All too soon the child disappears into the night of 1891 China. In a modern-day Chicago the stage is set with Rose Ming’s breakup from a married man, the loss of her academic job, and the consoling trip back to California and her mother. Rose and her mother are drawn back to China and into a haunting mystery that spans generations." - Mary Davidsaver, author of Clouds Over Bishop Hill
"The lyrical prose of Xixuan Collins winds beautifully through the pages of Flowing Water, Falling Flowers. Choices made through love echo from century to century in this touching story rich in Chinese culture." - Tom McKay, author of West Fork, Another Life, and The Old Guard
-Felicia Schneiderhan, author of Newlyweds Afloat
If there's anything we’re all sick of hearing, it’s about how “challenging” these times are. To us, it’s just a trendy, empty phrase that encourages people to be content with an absence of change. We’ve decided that this sentiment makes an excellent muse for our work this year. We’ve taken a phrase so stagnantly neutral and converted it into a way for our voices to be heard.
This year, we held all of our meetings over Zoom—we never thought we’d be asking to be in the sweltering basement of the Rock Island library instead. But this didn’t stop us from getting as close to each other as we would have in person.
Because the meetings were virtual, we braved a lot of things we didn’t expect. This included (but was not limited to) sketchy WiFi, weird lighting, our computers shutting off our audio for seemingly no reason, the lack of the ability to share food, and getting headaches from staring too long at our screens to get a better view of someone’s cat. However, we persevered through all of these hardships. Despite being so far away from each other, we each produced a large amount of incredible, deep, insightful work.
These pieces, among other things, show how we’re trying our best to understand the crazy world we live in when it seems like the world itself is a lot farther behind than we are. During this internship, we’ve developed our own little garden of writers—cultivating each other’s creativity, feeding off of everyone’s individual personalities and experiences, and ultimately blossoming with our own unique styles. This year, returning and new interns alike have come together to deliver prose, poetry, visual art, and even music. The odd circumstances of the year haven’t stopped us from making something that we’re all truly proud of.
We would like to point out that, even though our cats collectively wrote a novel when walking across our keyboards, none of their writing made it into The ATLAS 15. This is unfortunate. Still, we hope you enjoy this edition as much as we do.
THE YOUNG EMERGING WRITERS 2020
THE ATLAS 15 / Young Emerging Writers 2020 Staff
YEW Program/Editorial Director: Ryan Collins
Assistant Program Director/Editor-in-Chief: Sarah Elgatian
Assistant Program Director/Managing Editor: Erica Eastland
Workshop Leaders/Assistant Editors:
Emily Lloyd Brown, Sam Bruner, Melissa Conway
KayLee Chie Kuehl, Abigail Morrow
Cover Image: “A Craving For Change” – Montana Hogan
Design: Skylar Alexander Moore
Our most sincere thanks to our sponsors/grantors for their generous support of the 2020 Young Emerging Writers Internship Program and The Atlas 15: Regional Development Authority; Scott County Regional Authority; Illinois
Humanities; Modern Woodmen of America; the Melvin McKay Charitable Trust; the CD Wiman Memorial; the Rausch Family Foundation I; the Moline Foundation; the Figge Art Museum; Rozz-Tox; and the Illinois Arts Council Agency through federal funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Written as a tribute to musician Bill Bell (1936-2017), How Little Billy Learned to Play follows a young, fictionalized Bill Bell as he learns to play music in the Watertown neighborhood of East Moline, IL where he grew up.
Join "Little Billy" as he learns to play Hambone from his Uncle Ferdinand, jams with other famed East Moline musicians Esther Clark and Mallie Williams, and learns where the rhythm comes from.More info →
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tom McKay is a historian and museum consultant who lives in his hometown of Hampton, Illinois. His debut novel, West Fork, was published by East Hall Press at Augustana College in 2014. His short novel, Another Life, was published by 918studio press in 2014. His short stories have appeared in the Wapsipinicon Almanac, Vermont Ink, Downstate Story, the Wisconsin River Valley Journal, the Book Rack Newsletter, and the Out Loud Anthology series of the Midwest Writing Center.More info →
VULNERABILITY ISN’T EASY. Writing, therefore, is similarly difficult. It’s one thing to put your feelings to paper, but to transform them into a full-fledged work of art is a true challenge. This summer, we seventeen interns spent seven weeks working together and encouraging one another to complete this challenge. While many writers often have to fight this uphill battle alone, we had the opportunity to connect over our similar passions and ensure one another that we were being heard.
Throughout the past seven weeks, we’ve learned how to say what’s important to us and how to find what we needed to say. Together, we’ve all contributed to creating a safe and supportive environment, and we’ve bonded over inside jokes and emotional vulnerability. The seventeen of us have grown into people we can be proud of, evolving from unsure teenagers into confident artists. We’ve learned about writing and editing and the world and even ourselves. We now go forward into the world, pen in hand, different than when we first arrived.
Each person participating in the YEW internship came from wildly varying backgrounds, yet all of us found a home here. We are seventeen people full of different memories, mistakes, and regrets, but in The Atlas, we found a shared voice. Through writing, we cracked ourselves open like eggs and found within us the freedom to tell people what we think, feel, and believe.
This is not just a book; this is a box that holds the beauty, pain, secrets, and lives of the seventeen young adults that created it. This book is an anthology of chaos. It’s made of sleepless nights and 3 a.m. talks, of stargazing and perpetually moving forward. This book is a house in which honesty and positivity are the sword and shield we wield against the world. Our collective voice is beautiful, chaotic, and sometimes downright insane, but it’s a voice that we stand by and believe in. The Midwest Writing Center is proud to present The Atlas 14.
The Young Emerging Writers 2019
Meditations in a Helicopter About to Explode Over a Guy Covered in Chum, Surfing Off of Shark Bay Beach
"Evil is fantastic, shimmering, totally boring. Devastation is causal, inevitable, photoshopped. Profundity is detached, a parking lot, the B-movie of your most banal, necessary daydreams. Love is all of the above. So fuck death. Send postcards to ghosts. These poems are that carnival’s electric promise: to swallow you in weird, transformative light. But that’s no frivolous escape, it’s the desperate attempt “to make / a retina out of my heart.” What to do when fire breaks out in the fun house? Eat it alive." - Nick Sturm, author of HOW TO LIGHTMore info →